In a year that’s already delivered a cinematic adaptation of one of the most popular video game franchises, Universal and Blumhouse are banking on a wholly different fandom turning up in droves for the first Five Nights at Freddy’s film. Co-written by franchise creator Scott Cawthon, Seth Cuddeback, and director Emma Tammi, Five Nights at Freddy’s features a cast of human characters led by Josh Hutcherson, but fans are no doubt even more excited to spend time with the visually splendorous animatronics that were lovingly crafted by the legendary Jim Henson’s Creature Shop squad. And you can bet the movie's creative team was equally pumped to help bring this universe into existence.
CinemaBlend spoke with Emma Tammi ahead of Five Nights at Freddy’s highly anticipated release — which is happening both in theaters and via streaming with a Peacock subscription — and I was as pleased as a frog with a banjo to hear that it was such a meaningful experience for her to work with the team of geniuses helping to carry on Jim Henson’s legacy. When I asked about that particular partnership, here’s what she told me:
I for sure, throughout the whole process, was pinching myself that we were able to work with Jim Henson's Creature Shop on making these animatronics and bringing them to life in the movie in a whole new way than what the fanbase had ever seen before. But I still feel like I'm pinching myself, like that never went away. I'm forever in awe of the quality and the character that these animatronics have in the film. For me, it feels like it includes our movie and part of this incredible film and TV history that is Henson, and that's my childhood. I feel a little teary even talking about this, but it's like, I feel so privileged that we're a part of that, and I think it added so much to the film.
No matter where her career takes her next and in the future beyond, Emma Tammi can forever say that she brought Jim Henson's Creature Shop characters to life on the big screen, and that's pretty damned amazing. I don't think we'll be seeing Freddy Fazbear trying to convince Cookie Monster that pizza is better than cookies, nor Bonnie joining the band in Season 2 of The Muppets Mayhem, but we can hope.
To be sure, the Henson team certainly didn't take this gig lightly, and Tammi shared that they were just as honored to work on the wildly successful and fan-friendly franchise that is FNAF, saying:
But also what I loved about working with them is I know how privileged they felt to be a part of the FNAF world, to be stepping into this very important role of bringing these animatronics to life when they knew how many fans were excited for this film adaptation. So there's just like such an extreme mutual respect, and putting so much effort, care, and love into getting this right. We were just so lucky to collaborate with them. I think it brought the movie to a whole other level.
While the film's success will obviously dictate what happens next for Five Nights in and around Hollywood. But I have to think that the exquisite work that went into the animatronics deserves to be featured and showcased in every which way possible. The Pizzeria bandmates are currently on display at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights, as part of the Behind the Screams exhibit, but here's hoping they'll make a permanent mark on the park soon.
On FNAF Creator Scott Cawthon's Involvement
While far too many video game adaptations are crafted by creatives who haven't invested themselves in the source material, Five Nights at Freddy's obviously avoids that pitfall by having game developer and author Scott Cawthon as co-writer and producer, which allowed him to somewhat completely revamp the universe that he introduced with the first game's release in 2014. And he didn't just stop at the writing, as Emma Tammi told me he was a big part of the planning stages for the character designs, and definitely made it out to the NOLA-based set to see the life-sized versions of his pixelated characters. When I asked if she was able to geek out with Cawthon in person, she told me:
Oh, yeah, for sure. Scott was tuned into every stage of production on this film. He was able to come to New Orleans while we were filming. That was when he met the animatronics for the first time, and was really blown away, even though he had been given critical input on their design and build throughout the process remotely. Yeah, that was the first time all of us were able to walk through the set of the pizzeria for the first time. And I think every new element that was coming to life from the game in the franchise was a moment and an opportunity for him and all of us to geek out over how cool the the actualization and materialization of these these worlds were.
As someone who definitely remembers the dark and unsterilized existence of Showbiz Pizza before any initial-adopting mice entered the picture, and also as someone who will never get tired of fictionalized locations being turned into real-world attractions, I can only hope to one day find myself a faux-murder victim of Freddy Fazbear or one of his perfectly functioning cohorts within a full-on pizzeria. The alternate would be to suddenly become the perfect actor to help co-lead a second FNAF film, and it would take a bigger talent than Jim Henson to make that happen.
Five Nights at Freddy's is in theaters starting Friday, October 27, and is streaming on Peacock the same day. Check out all the other upcoming horror movies that are on the way once Mike's security guard shift is over.